The Popularity of 'Reaction' Channels on YouTube

Since the Fine Brothers found YouTube fame with their ‘React’ series (Kids React/Teens React/Elders React/etc.), it seems that channels dedicated to reacting to other media has become prolific on the platform.
By reaction channels, this would entail the channels that merely watch/listen to films/tv/music and react to them as they watch – not offering productive commentary, merely just watching and giving subjective opinions as they watch.

Investigate what makes them so popular, is it because they are found genuinely entertaining? Is it because people enjoy having their opinions on a show/album/movie confirmed by someone else? Is it the charisma of the presenter that matters? Is it merely ‘easy’ content to create so it appears to be everywhere because it is just accessible for many creators?

Perhaps an article on this topic could look into the criticism of this video content – it has often been labelled as bottom-tier YouTube content, unoriginal and uninspired.
Some creators begin their careers with a reaction channel, then use the audience they gain from this to then transition into other content creation. Why is this type of content perceived so negatively despite being so popular amongst viewers?
Another angle to pursue could be what the artists’ response is to their art being used for someone else’s monetary gain through reaction channels. Do they, and the platform they upload to, disapprove of this behaviour, does it breach copyright laws? Do musicians/film makers/video game creators like this kind of publicity for their work, does it boost profit or encourage a new fan base?

Can parallels be drawn between reaction channels on YouTube and, say, young adult fiction in literature or reality tv in the television industry? That is, within any industry there exists a hierarchy based on public opinion regarding what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ within that medium. Is reaction YouTube just another example of that? A guilty pleasure genre, perhaps?

I realise this is a lot of ideas thrown into one, so an article on this could be selective in which angles it chooses to pursue, however, ‘reaction’ channels are arguably a cornerstone of YouTube creation, and an article exploring this and its affect on the YouTube community would be an insightful read.

  • I think this is a very interesting idea. Speaking personally, the reason why I like the Fine Brothers' "React" series is the personality/charisma/character of each reactor, especially those who are unafraid to go against the public opinion by, for example, liking/disliking something that is overwhelmingly disliked/liked. Though, I've always wondered about the dilemma of using someone else's art for monetary gain, not only from a legal but also from an ethical standpoint. Even if copyright laws aren't breached under the doctrine of Fair Use, it still seems, in my opinion, morally ambiguous to profit off someone's work. This is especially the case when one is deriving profits from the arguably passive act of "reacting", as opposed to providing constructive criticism like reviews, for example. It might also be interesting to draw comparisons between reaction channels and the realm of YA fiction. At least in my own experience from being a semi-avid reader of YA and regular watcher of "BookTube", I feel as though there is a herd mentality that causes readers to feel guilty and/or ostracised for their reading preferences if they don't align with the general public opinion on which books are "good" or "bad". – Marcus 2 years ago

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